Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Going Green: My Methodology

As soon as I read about the potential dangers cosmetics present, I ran out and bought non-toxic body lotion and lip products. (For some reason, these seemed the most necessary. Thinking of the ill effects that my conventional products could cause prevents me from being able to slather on my old body lotions or freely apply my old lipsticks.) I was fully prepared to go out and buy all new products, but then I realized I needed a plan for all of my old stuff.

Here's what I've decided is good for me: I plan to run the ingredient lists of my products through Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group's cosmetic database. Anything that receives a score of 7 to 10 (high hazard), I will toss immediately. Anything with a score of (3-6)(moderate hazard), I will use up, but never re-[urchase. Anything with a score between 0 and 2 (low hazard), I will continue to use AND be very happy that I purchased it.

Anything that is not a low-scoring product that I haven't opened yet, I will try to return to the store. Some things I purchased a long time ago as backup because they were limited edition products. These I will try to sell on Amazon or Ebay. I may try to swap unnatural samples on Makeup Alley. However, anything with a high score will be thrown out. I don't want to give to other people products that I'm not comfortable using on myself.

Once I've used up or gotten rid of all my old products, I will start buying new things. :) What do you think?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Green or Unclean: MAC Lustre Lipstick

I love MAC lipsticks, especially the lustres. My go-to lip products are Viva Glam Gaga and Viva Glam V. I decided to see how these measured up on the Skin Deep Database.

Ingredients: Ricinus communic (castor) seed oil, dipentaerythrityl, hexahydroxystearate/hexastearate/hexarosinate, euphorbia cerifera (candellilla) wax/candelilla cera/cire de candelilla, caprylic/capric triglyceride, pvp/hexadecene copolymer, polyethylene, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, cetyl acetate, lanolin oil, cetyl lactate, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), polydecene, beeswax/cera alba/cire d'abeille, gylcine soja (soybean) seed extract, tocopheryl acetate, ascorbyl palmitate, ceramide 3, synthetic wax, synthetic beeswax, silica calcium sodium, borosilicate, alumina, tin oxide, acetylated lanolin alcohol, cetyl alcohol, vanillin, [+/- mica, titanium dioxide (CI 77891), iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), bismuth oxychloride (CI 77163), blue 1 lake (CI 42090), carmine (CI 75470), red 6 (CI 15850), red 6 lake (CI 15850), red 7 lake (CI 15850), red 21 (CI 45380), red 28 lake (CI 45410), red 30 lake (CI 73360), red 33 lake (CI 17200), yellow 5 lake (CI 19140), yellow 6 lake (CI 15985), yellow 10 lake (CI 47005)]

This lipstick (the Viva Glam Gaga) received a rating of 5. I knew that there was no way this lipstick could be clean when I saw how many ingredients were in it.

Verdict: Unclean
Le sigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Phthalates, Parabens & Sulfates, oh my!

The phrase "your skin is your body's largest organ" is often repeated, but I wonder is people really think about what they put on their skin every day.  I know I don't. Your skin is your body's largest organ, and the ingredients in skin care products are specifically designed to penetrate it. Your skin is highly absorbent. It absorbs 60% of what you put on it - in other words, 60% of each ingredient of a product that you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream.

The FDA does not require cosmetics to be tested for safety. It's up to you to monitor what you are putting in your body. These are the substances that I personally look out for:

  • phthalates - a chemical group used to add flexibility and dissolvibility to other ingredients, may cause organ damage and has been linked to liver toxicity and certain types of cancer; often found in perfumes, hairspray, and nail polishes
  • parabens - a common type of preservative used to extend the shelf life of shampoos, lotions, toothpastes, hand soaps, shaving gels, and other goods; can contribute to certain types of cancer
  • sulfates - a surfactant (detergent); not as bad as phthalates or parabens, but is a skin irritant to which some people are extremely sensitive
  • formaldehyde - a preservative found in eye shadows, mascaras, and nail hardeners; a known human carcinogen
Basically, I read the ingredient list of products before I purchase them, and if they contain any of these substances, I take a pass. This isn't to say that I religiously avoid everything with these things in them. I'm often taken in by shiny packaging, and only realize later that I should have looked at the label. I have the easiest time finding better lotions and hair products because the packaging is usually labeled "paraben and phthalate-free" if it is. In the future, I hope to make even better choices by researching products online before I buy them.

As I said before, the beauty industry is unregulated. Companies are not required to test products or ingredients for safety before they’re sold, manufacturers can use whatever chemicals they want in their products, and are not required to disclose their ingredients. A "Toxic Substances Control Act" was passed over thirty years ago... but takes as its premise that chemicals are safe until they have been proven unsafe. There is a self-policing Cosmetic Ingredient Review; however, the scientists on this panel are funded by... the beauty industry.

The information in this post was gathered from: Sara Snow's Fresh Living by Sara Snow, Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things, and

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Green or Unclean?

Since I have decided to go as green, or clean, as possible with my skin and makeup regimen, all makeup that I purchase in the future will be non-toxic (at least, I'll try my best to make sure that it is). Unfortunately, I've accrued a bunch of makeup in the past that is probably not clean. So, I'll be checking how my makeup and skin care items measure up on Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database, and deciding whether or not to keep them. I'll be sharing the ratings of my products with you in installments called "Green or Unclean?" so that, unlike me, you can use this information before you buy products.

My first product is:

MAC Select SPF 15 Foundation
Active Ingredient: Octyl Methoxycinnamate
Inactive ingredients: Water (Aqua Purificata) Purified, Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Talc, Butylene Glycol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Polydecene, Glyceryl Dilaurate, Tea-Isostearate, Tea-Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Kaolin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Pantethine, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Steareth-21, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Steareth-2, Perfluoropolymethylisopropyl Ether, Stearyl Alcohol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben
May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Chromium Oxide Greens

First off, I immediately noticed that it contains three types of parabens. 

The Skin Deep Database gives this foundation a score of 6, indicating that it presents a moderate hazard to people's health. The Database divides scores into three categories: low (0-2), moderate (3-6), and high (7-10). Hopefully one day all of my products will be non-hazardous.

Verdict: Unclean

MAC Select has been my daily foundation for several months... I will be switching to a new foundation. /:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why I'm Going Green

I've slowly been becoming more aware of the environment, how I have an impact on it, and how things have an impact on me. When I was living on my own for the first time, in college, I realized that trash actually went somewhere and accumulated - so I started recycling religiously. I took a class on American Culture and I realized that the meat industry had a lot of flaws - so I became a vegetarian. It's been a couple of years since I was in college and I've continued to recycle and be a vegetarian.

I recently (in the past year and a half) become more interested in makeup. I got really into watching YouTube videos, then reading blogs, then spending all my spare cash on cosmetics. Recently, I read a book Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. The author of this book analyzes cosmetic products, beauty companies' claims, and how well these claims are met through a study products'  ingredients. I had always wondered about claims made by different products, but assumed that in this day and age of scientific discovery that my products were laden with "super" ingredients. It seems kinda sad, but I was shocked to realize that many of the ingredients included in my skin care items actually had detrimental effects.

After reading this book, I decided to research more on my own. Google led me to the Environmental Working Groups' Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. This, along with other books I've now read, has led me to decide to only buy toxin-free products - no more toxic skin-care products, cosmetics, cleaning products, etc. I created this blog so that I can keep track of my purchases and to provide information that could be of help to anyone who should happen to read it. :)